Though Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis won't be re-evaluated from his torn ACL until February, teammate Lance Thomas sees how much Porzingis wants to return.
"He's working really hard, man,'' Thomas said, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. "He's in there before everybody. He's there when everybody leaves. While we practice, he just has that itch. You can just tell -- seeing us compete so hard in practice. He comes to me and says, 'Man, I can't wait. I got the itch.' He grabs a basketball on the side and starts dribbling it. He's working really hard. I know he's very anxious getting back on the court."
The Knicks released a statement on Friday saying the team still wasn't certain if the 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who tore his ACL back in February, would play this season, however they added he has made good progress in his recovery.
"Once he reaches the remaining rehab benchmarks," the Knicks said, "he will advance to on-court team drills and activities."
Porzingis has participated in non-contact drills over the past few weeks, including running and 3-point shooting. Head coach David Fizdale said last month he was more optimistic Porzingis would return this season, although the team has stressed erring toward the side of caution.
Thomas said he would "love to" play alongside Porzingis, the 23-year-old All-Star who averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 48 games last season before he suffered the injury, and is anxious to see what Porzingis can do upon his return.
"I would love nothing more than to be able to lace it up with him again," Thomas said. "He also needs to do what's best for him. It's an injury you don't want to mess around with, especially the type of year he had right before it, an All-Star caliber year. We want to make sure he comes back and he's confident with all his movements and mentally carefree.
"He hasn't played a game since February. There's going to be some rust. But rust from KP is better than a lot of guys in this league."